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Anheuser Busch signs on for parade

After weeks of uncertainty about who will march in Tampa's new Super Bowl parade, the first major sponsor of the event stepped forward Tuesday: the Anheuser Busch Co. A representative of the company, the maker of Budweiser and other beers, said parade planners can count on the company to support the new parade, now scheduled to roll down Bayshore Boulevard on the day before Super Bowl XXV.

Agnes Baker, a company administrator, said that Anheuser Busch will sponsor a parade float, but it was not clear Tuesday how much money the company would donate to the fledgling parade.

Baker said the company was not troubled about controversy surrounding the new parade or the original festival, which was canceled by the exclusive Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla when it refused to immediately admit blacks and women as demanded by a community group.

"We have committed to be in a parade and we saw no reason to change our minds," Baker said. She said the company plans to sign a commitment letter within the week.

Henry Carley, co-chairman of the parade task force, said he was pleased with the new sponsor. He declined to name other potential sponsors, but said parade planners are wooing major companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola.

He also said that planners are still negotiating with Network International, a Philadelphia company that arranges sponsors for major events and had recruited $200,000 worth of sponsors for Gasparilla.